Thursday September 19, 2019
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Amidst Controversy, President Distributed 65th National Film Awards

Irani also hailed the noticeable presence of regional cinema and talent and also drew attention to how over 20 women were honoured at the stage.

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Iconic actress Sridevi was posthumously honoured at the 71st Cannes Film Festival. Filmmaker Subhash Ghai, who received the award on her behalf, says he felt honoured.
Sridevi gotthe TITAN Reginald F. Lewis Film Icon Award at 71st Cannes Film Festival. Wikimedia commons

Controversy marred the 65th National Film Awards ceremony here on Thursday with several awardees protesting against the whittling down of the number of those to be honoured by the President to a select 11.

Upset over breaking from the long-held tradition of the President giving away all the awards, around 60 awardees wrote to the Directorate of Film Festivals, President’s office and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, over the “discrimination”.

The name plates of the absentee winners were placed facing down at the Vigyan Bhawan, where several others from across the length and breadth of the country congregated to celebrate the diversity of India and Indian cinema.

Celebrated names like K.J. Yesudas and A.R. Rahman, apart from actors Riddhi Sen, Divya Dutta and Pankaj Tripathi and a host of others attended the gala.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore handed out the remainder of the 125 awards at the event, which was also devoid of a musical performance unlike every year.

Another posthumous honour went to Sridevi, whose powerful performance in her last film "Mom" fetched her the Best Actress Award. Her husband Boney Kapoor and two daughters -- Jahnvi and Khushi -- took the stage together to receive what was Sridevi's first National Award in a career of 50 years.
Boney Kapoor and daughter receiving Sridevi’s award from President, BollywoodCountry

The prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award — the country’s highest cinema honour — was given posthumously to Vinod Khanna, whose wife Kavita Khanna and son Akshaye Khanna received it. It was an “emotional and proud moment,” Akshaye said.

Another posthumous honour went to Sridevi, whose powerful performance in her last film “Mom” fetched her the Best Actress Award. Her husband Boney Kapoor and two daughters — Jahnvi and Khushi — took the stage together to receive what was Sridevi’s first National Award in a career of 50 years.

President Ram Nath Kovind, who joined the ceremony in the latter half, said: “We will miss them forever… More than just box office successes, they tugged at our hearts and captured our emotions.”

He said India’s strength lies in its diversity, and cinema celebrates it by having a unifying voice which transcends regions. He spoke about the “transformational times for cinema” and how “India is gaining traction as a filmmaking destination”.

Irani also hailed the noticeable presence of regional cinema and talent and also drew attention to how over 20 women were honoured at the stage.

All the officials who took to the mike thanked the President for his presence. However, the question many were left with after this edition of the ceremony, is why all the winners were not felicitated by the President.

In the letter, the protesting awardees said they felt “dejected rather than honoured” for their work.

It was on Wednesday that the awardees were informed that a large segment of the awards will not be presented by the President. They discussed the matter with Irani the same evening and were promised a reply.

"...We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of the honour of this appreciation of a once-in-a-lifetime moment of pride and glory that the National Film Awards had promised us."
Smriti Irani, Information and Broadcasting Minister- wikimedia commons

“In the circumstance of not receiving a response for our grievance, we are left with no option but to be absent for the ceremony. We do not intend to boycott the award, but are not attending the ceremony to convey our discontent…

“It feels like a breach of trust when an institution/ceremony that abides by extreme protocol, fails to inform of such a vital aspect of the ceremony with prior notice. It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy.

“…We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of the honour of this appreciation of a once-in-a-lifetime moment of pride and glory that the National Film Awards had promised us.”

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The President handed over the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Nargis Dutt Award for Feature Films on National Integration, Best Book on Cinema, Best Direction (non-feature film), Best Jasari Film, Best Male Playback Singer, Best Music Direction (songs and background music), Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Direction (feature film), Best Feature Film and Best Editing.

Singer Shashaa Tirupati felt “terribly disrespected”.

Shashaa, who bagged the Best Female Playback Singer for “Vaan varuvaan” from “Kaatru Veliyidai”, told IANS: “It’s like the thrill of it is gone now… National Awards and the President go hand-in-hand. For 64 years, they have been given by the President. When you speak of the National Award, automatically people visualise the President handing over the award to the recipient.”

Riddhi Sen, the Best Actor winner for the film “Nagarkirtan”, received the honour from the President. But he found the decision for others unfair.

“This is discrimination and this is absolutely unfair.” (BollywoodCountry)

 

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Kenya, Uganda Sign Pact To End Cross-Border Conflicts Between Turkana, Pokot and Karamoja

The programme Cross-Border Sustainable Peace and Development seeks to end hostilities among the three neighbouring communities and enhance development in the region

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President, Kenya, Uganda, Border, Conflict
President Museveni, Uganda. Wikimedia Commons

BY GEOFFREY ISAYA

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni have witnessed the signing of an agreement aimed at promoting sustainable peace and development among Turkana, Pokot and Karamojong communities.

The programme dubbed Cross-Border Sustainable Peace and Development seeks to end hostilities among the three neighbouring communities and enhance development in the region by promoting non-violent interactions and collaborations.

The UN-supported intervention that will be led by a ministerial committee co-chaired by Kenya and Uganda will be implemented in the region to reduce tensions resulting from access to shared resources such as water and pasture.

Speaking during the launch ceremony in Moroto town, President Kenyatta welcomed the agreement saying it will help spur development in the region which has for many years suffered unnecessary communal conflicts.The UN-supported intervention that will be led by a ministerial committee co-chaired by Kenya and Uganda will be implemented in the region to reduce tensions resulting from access to shared resources such as water and pasture.

“This programme, in cooperation with the UN, is a programme that will help all of us to ensure that we have peace, our people live together and also to enable us develop,” the President said.

He said the peace and development programme will assist in transforming the border region from a conflict zone to an area of progress, development and wealth.

President, Kenya, Uganda, Border, Conflict
President Kenyatta and Uganda’s Museveni signing the agreement on September 14, 2019.

The President noted that it is through wealth creation as envisioned in the signed peace and development agreement that the poverty that plague the region can be fought successfully.

“Peace is the foundation of all that is good. Where there’s no peace, no development, there’s no wealth that can be made. I want to thank President Museveni for the work he has done here to ensure that this region which was a conflict zone is now a region of peace,” the President said.

He called for free movement of people, goods and services across borders of African countries saying the continent can’t develop without free trade.

“If you don’t trade, you cannot create wealth. If you do not move, you cannot create wealth. And if you don’t create wealth, all you are doing is institutionalizing poverty. And we want to eliminate poverty from our people,” President Kenyatta said.

“Therefore, our coming here today is to demonstrate, first our unity as Kenyans with our Ugandan counterparts and our counterparts in the East African Community,” he continued.

The President, who was accompanied by Cabinet Secretaries Eugene Wamalwa (Devolution), Simon Chelugui (Water) and John Munyes (Mining), said Kenya will develop amenities including schools, dams and health centres on its side of the common border that will be accessible to all communities in the cluster.

President, Kenya, Uganda, Border, Conflict
President Uhuru Kenyatta|PSCU.

President Museveni, who spoke in Kiswahili and largely dwelt on development projects implemented by his administration over the years in the Karamoja region, thanked President Kenyatta for the various reforms that have enhanced cross-border trade and people-to-people interactions between Kenya and Uganda.

The Ugandan leader singled out reforms at the Port of Mombasa which he said have greatly improved the efficiency of processing and evacuation of Ugandan exports and imports respectively.

On regional connectivity infrastructure, President Museveni called for UN involvement in lobbying donor institutions and development partners to support more regional and inter-country roads.

“One of the advocacy points I want you (UN agencies) to help us with are these cross-border roads. We have already succeeded with His Excellency Uhuru with the road from Mbale through Kapchorwa, Suam to Kitale in Kenya. That one is being worked on.

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“In the same way, we want to work on the road from Moroto through to Kenya. We also need to work on the road from Nakiroro to Kenya… But above all, I want them (UN) to help us with the road crossing through Kenya to Southern Ethiopia,” President Museveni said.

Earlier, the two leaders commissioned the 2.3 million cubic litres Kebebe dam, a community water point that was constructed by the Ugandan government at a cost of 2.5 million US dollars.

The dam which is close to the Kenya-Uganda border serves over 1.5 million animals from the pastoralist Turkana and Karamojong communities.

Governors John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot) and Josphat Nanok (Turkana) spoke at the launch event that was attended by several senior Kenyan and Ugandan leaders.